Douglas wrestlers head to state
Douglas junior Ben Johnson finished second in the 189-pound division at the Northern 4A zone wrestling tournament Saturday, and will lead a quartet of Tiger grapplers to the state tournament this weekend in Elko.
Senior Kenny Moore took fifth place at 171 pounds to earn a berth in the state championship tournament.
Sophomores John Hillenbrand and Drew Hall also advanced to the state meet. Hillenbrand was sixth at 152 pounds and Hall finished sixth in the 160-pound division.
“This is what it’s all about,” Douglas coach Mark Lilly said, “At the beginning of the year, we talked about getting to the state tournament and winning a state championship.
“Realistically, you hope you get a good draw so you can win a couple of matches and get into the medal round. The important thing is to go there and get a feel for the format and what it feels like to compete at a state tournament.”
Top top six finishers in each weight at the Northern and Southern 4A zone tournaments all advance to state. The top two wrestlers in each weight from the 3A and 2A divisions also qualify, setting up 16-man brackets at each weight.
The tournament will start Friday and will conclude Saturday.
Johnson, who is 31-8 this season with 18 pins, was 2-1 at the zone tournament and lost in the championship finals.
He defeated D. Augure, the No. 3 seed from Elko, 18-2 in the quarterfinals. Johnson, the No. 5 seed, then avoided a throw and countered with a takedown to beat Galena’s Jesse Jones in overtime in the semifinals.
Fallon’s Matt Lewis pinned Johnson late in the third period of the final match.
“Ben came out real confident,” Lilly said. “He got excited about the draw. He looked real good against Lewis until he decided to get away from the game plan.
“He can beat some real good kids when he sticks to his game plan. He’s definitely top three in the Northern 189s. This is just the beginning. State’s the big thing”
Moore lost to Craig Cunningham, the No. 2 seed from Elko, in the quarterfinals, 11-6, which sent him to the consolation bracket, where an odd thing happened.
Sparks High flip-flopped its 160- and 171-pounders for the zone tournament. S. Bachman, who had defeated Douglas’ Hall at 160 pounds a couple weeks ago, wrestled at 171 pounds. T. Crites, who had defeated Moore at 171 in the same dual, moved down to 160.
Both Douglas wrestlers defeated their Sparks opponents in the consolation quarterfinals to eliminate the two Railroaders from the zone tournament.
Moore rallied for a thrilling 11-9 win over Bachman. Trailing 9-5 with less than one minute remaining, Moore managed a reversal and put Bachman on his back to cut the lead to 9-7. Bachman tapped out, which resulted in a four-point near-fall an an 11-9 lead with 10 seconds left in the third. Moore rode out Bachman to earn the trip to state.
“We talk about never giving up, that’s one of our things,” Lilly said. “Kenny didn’t get pinned and had enough in him to come back and win”
Carson’s Shane Van Zandt, who had pinned Moore earlier in the season, defeated the Douglas senior, 9-2, in the consolation semifinals.
Moore pinned Fallon’s Sam Keel in 1:42 to take fifth place.
“If you stick with it and stay close enough to win matches, you can go to state,” Lilly said of Moore’s efforts.
Moore is 19-10 with nine pins.
Hall had a tough draw at 160 pounds. He lost to No. 1 seed Ryan Bader of McQueen, 9-0, in the quarterfinals. Bader, a sophomore, won the 160-pound title.
He then trailed Sparks’ Crites by one point with 30 seconds remaining in the consolation quarterfinals, before getting a reversal, earning back points and a near-fall to record an 11-5 win and claim a spot at state.
Hall lost to Elko’s Ronnie Pooler in the consolation semifinals, 5-0, and dropped a 13-5 decision to Kelly Davis of Fallon in the fifth-sixth place match.
“Drew wrestles close enough where he can put himself in a position to win,” Lilly said. “He’s a competitor when he gets out there.”
Hillenbrand drew No. 1 seed Chad Plummer of Sparks in the second round in the 152-pound division. Plummer earned a first-round pin.
The Douglas sophomore beat Lowry’s Aaron Millsap in overtime, 12-10, in the consolation quarterfinals. He pinned Reed’s N. Levana in 30 seconds in the semifinals and lost a 5-2 decision to Carson’s Brandon Lamborn in the semifinals.
Fallon’s David Stubbs defeated Hillenbrand, 1-0, in the fifth-sixth match.
“Here’s a kid who has really improved in the second half with a lot of hard work,” Lilly said. “With hard work comes success, and that’s what John needed.”
Freshman David Tingle was the only other Tiger to win a match at the zone tournament. He was 3-2 with two pins at 130 pounds and finished seventh. He is the alternate at 130 pounds and will get to wrestle at state if one of the top six can’t go to Elko.
Freshman Allen Anderson wrestled at 103 pounds for Douglas at zone. He was 0-3 and finished eighth.
Freshman D’Art Johnson was 0-2 at 125 pounds.
Senior Mark Magee was 0-2 at 135 pounds.
And junior Carl Wymer was 0-2 at 215 pounds.
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